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Teaching With Students' 4 Needs in Mind: Safety

Teaching With Students' 4 Needs in Mind: Safety

We all have four basic needs. We cannot learn and grow unless these four needs are met. We don’t consciously think about these needs. Most of us don’t even know we have them, but our actions reveal our needs.


The first need we have is to feel safe. We need to feel both physically safe and emotionally safe. If we don’t feel safe, our brains can only focus on getting safe. There isn’t room for fun or learning.

Safety In the Classroom

Do your students feel safe in your classroom? Think about the physical environment of your classroom. Is it safe? If it isn’t safe, is there something you can change to make it safe? If you find any changes need to be made to your physical environment, you will want to report it to your school principal.


As a teacher, one of your most important jobs is to create an emotionally safe environment for your students. You want your students to feel safe taking risks, so they can learn and grow as individuals.

Remember, your students probably don’t even know they have an innate need for safety. They act subconsciously to meet this need without thinking about it. The ways they meet this need may be frustrating.

Students who don’t feel safe may…

  • attack other students verbally or physically

  • make jokes or be disrespectful

  • stay silent or uninvolved in the classroom

  • damage property within the classroom


These behaviors are disruptive to the classroom. They may even make other students feel unsafe. When responding to these behaviors, it is important to remember what is causing them. These students feel unsafe in the classroom. Their behaviors are their way of controlling an unsafe environment. These kids who look so angry are actually terrified.

Poor choices need consequences, but you also need to focus on making these students feel safe in your classroom.

Creating a safe environment means the students know they will be respected as learners both in and out of the classroom.

Here are some ways you can make students feel safe in the classroom:

  1. Don’t call on students who don’t have their hands up. These students don’t feel comfortable answering the question you just asked. Calling on them because you don’t believe they were paying attention will only embarrass them and not make them feel safe with you.

  2. If a student gets an answer wrong or asks a question that you have already answered, don’t make fun of him or her.

  3. Smile at students!

  4. Listen to students when they talk to you. Show them that you care about them and will help them when you can.

  5. If a student comes to you with a problem with another student, take steps to resolve the problem.

  6. Talk to your students about how they should treat each other. Model respectful behavior. Give students the opportunity to practice respectful behavior.

  7. Post the classroom rules/expectations and teach them to the students. Enforce the rules consistently.

  8. Let students know about a schedule change as soon as possible, so they can mentally prepare for the change.

  9. Talk to students about misbehavior in private. Do not embarrass students by discussing their shortcomings in front of the entire class.

  10. Maintain student privacy within the classroom. Do not share personal information such as test scores or communication with parents where other students may hear.


If your students feel safe in your classroom, they will be free to focus on learning. They will feel good about coming to school and spending time with you.

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